What Will The Final Debt Deal Look Like?

We all know that the Boehner Plan is not going to pass the Senate. Indeed, Harry Reid has already said that he will be bringing it up for a Motion to Table tonight, mere hours after it passes the House (which now seems likely). The Reid Plan, on the other hand, is unlikely to pass the House in its present form. There will have to be modifications, and Ezra Klein takes a guess at what the final bill will look like when it finally gets put together over the weekend:

Cuts: $1.2 trillion in discretionary spending cuts, with somewhat more of the total falling on defense spending than in Boehner’s bill and somewhat less of the total falling on defense spending than in Reid’s bill.

Committee: The bipartisan “Supercommittee” will be formed and charged with developing a plan that cuts the deficit by $1.8 trillion or more. Unlike in Boehner’s plan, future debt-ceiling increases will not require passage of the committee’s plan. But unlike in Reid’s plan, there will be a “trigger” mechanism that begins making automatic, across-the-board cuts if their plan — or some variant — isn’t adopted.

Debt ceiling: The debt ceiling will be raised by $1 trillion upon passage of the plan. Further increases will be done through the McConnell mechanism: The president will essentially be able to raise the debt ceiling on his own, but Congress will be able to issue resolutions of disapproval if and when he does so.

Wild cards: Boehner’s plan requires a future vote on a balanced budget amendment. I’d expect that will be part of the final deal.

If this is what the final deal ends up looking like, then I agree with Klein that John Boehner is likely to face an even bigger rebellion among his caucus, and he’s going to need help to get the bill passed:

The final bill will not pass through the House on a party-line vote. It will be a compromise proposal, and Boehner will lose far more than 23 of his members. He’ll likely lose 50, 60, 80, even 100. They’ll have to be replaced by Democratic votes. And so his task will be to furnish a compromise that most House Republicans can vote for and enough House Democrats can vote for.

At the end of the day, one of the biggest questions coming out of this debt ceiling saga will be the extent to which John Boehner’s position within the GOP caucus has been weakened, and what that means for the next partisan showdown. Which is likely to come in September when Congress is voting on the Fiscal Year 2012 budget.


FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Racehorse says:

    The budget deal would have been wrapped up long ago if these two were our leaders:

    Harry Truman
    Lyndon B. Johnson – the best politician in the past 100 years

  2. An Interested Party says:

    @Racehorse: Horse$hit, as neither of those presidents had the Tea Party crowd to deal with…

  3. A voice from another precinct says:

    “The president will essentially be able to raise the debt ceiling on his own, but Congress will be able to issue resolutions of disapproval if and when he does so.”

    I do like the whole War Powers Act feel of this part. It promises that the circus will continue for a long LOOOOOOOOOONG time. And everyone likes circuses, right? “Course they do!

  4. Pug says:

    I’m having a little trouble understanding why so many people still think there will be any deal. I’ve thought for some time that the Tea Party wants a default and they have the power to deliver one.

    And, I put my money where my mouth is. I sold most of my stock holdings week before last.

    Boehner can’t deliver anything. In case it hasn’t sunk in yet, these people are nuts. This might not even be good news for John McCain.

  5. mantis says:

    Oh come now. Everything is good news for John McCain.